Director of Product Engineering
2900 South 160th Street
New Berlin, WI 53151
Dear Mr. Brester:
This responds to your request for an interpretation concerning how Standard No. 105, Hydraulic Brake Systems, affects the brake products you sell. According to your letter:
Velvac Inc. manufactures and sells brake components and power braking systems for trailers and truck tag axles. These brake systems are not part of the primary vehicle braking system. In the case of a tag axle, our customers are retrofitting a standard vehicle with an additional axle to increase its load carrying capacity. In the case of a trailer, our system may be the only source of braking. The brake components Velvac supplies generally include control valving, brake boosters and various types of hoses and fittings. These items can be sold both as components and as complete power brake kits. (See attached catalogue drawings . . . .)
You stated that Mr. Richard Carter of this agency advised you that different combinations of braking components may be used to achieve the braking performance requirements of Standard No. 105, and that the responsibility of certifying vehicles to Standard No. 105 lies in the hands of your customers. This information is correct. However, you should be aware that some of the components listed in your catalogue are covered by Standard No. 106, Brake Hoses, and must be certified by their manufacturer as complying with that standard. A further discussion of the issues raised by your letter is provided below.
By way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards for new motor vehicles and new
motor vehicle equipment. NHTSA has exercised this authority to issue several vehicle and/or equipment standards related to braking performance. These standards include the aforementioned Standards No. 105 and No. 106, as well as ones on air brake systems, motorcycle brake systems, and motor vehicle brake fluids.
You specifically asked about Standard No. 105. That standard specifies requirements for hydraulic service brake and associated parking brake systems, and applies to passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses with hydraulic service brake systems.
If your brake products are installed as original equipment on a new vehicle subject to Standard No. 105, the vehicle manufacturer is required to certify that, with the products installed, the vehicle satisfies the requirements of that standard (as well as all other applicable safety standards). If your brake products are added to a previously certified new motor vehicle prior to its first sale, the person who modifies the vehicle would be an "alterer" under our regulations, and would be required to certify that, as altered, the vehicle continues to comply with all of the safety standards affected by the alteration.
If your products are installed on a used vehicle by a business such as a repair shop, the repair shop would not be required to attach a certification label. However, it would have to make sure that it did not knowingly make inoperative any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable safety standard, such as the hydraulic brake system.
Assuming you do not manufacture or alter new vehicles, you do not have a responsibility to certify a vehicle's compliance with Standard No. 105. However, I note that some of the brake products listed in your catalogue are covered by Standard No. 106. That standard specifies requirements for motor vehicle brake hose, end fittings and assemblies. Standard No. 106 applies not only to new vehicles, as is the case with Standard No. 105, but also to brake hoses, end fittings and assemblies that are sold individually or in kit form. Manufacturers of these items must certify that the equipment complies with Standard No. 106, and persons selling these items must sell only certified items.
NHTSA also has the authority to investigate safety- related defects. Manufacturers of motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment are subject to statutory requirements concerning the recall and remedy of products with defects related to motor vehicle safety. If a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a safety-related defect exists, the manufacturer must notify purchasers of its product and remedy the problem free of charge. (This responsibility is borne by the vehicle manufacturer in cases in which your products are installed on a new vehicle by or with the express authorization of that vehicle manufacturer.) Any manufacturer that fails to provide notification of or remedy for a defect may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation.
I have enclosed an information sheet that briefly describes various responsibilities of motor vehicle manufacturers under our regulations, and information on how you can obtain copies of our standards.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please call Edward Glancy of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel
ref:105#106 d:10/17/95 The "make inoperative" provision does not apply to individual vehicle owners who alter their own vehicles. Thus, under our requirements, individual owners may install any item of motor vehicle equipment regardless of its effect on compliance with the FMVSSs. However, NHTSA encourages vehicle owners not to degrade the safety of their vehicles.